Schmidt Press and Mekkanischer Wahnsinn

3 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Andrew Wicks

Andrew Wicks

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

The owner of the small Berlin-based Schmidt Press encounters a dilemma when she is given the opportunity to publish a novel about a Muslim woman who attempts to lead an underground movement to take control of the Kaaba, the holy sanctuary at Mecca. Given the events of the prior 25 years—such as the angry fallout after Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses, the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the upheaval in many Middle Eastern countries—publishing the novel presents a host of various ethical dilemmas, including whether Schmidt should put her staff at risk. This case discusses the ethics of a free press and challenges the profit motive in the face of political and religious world affairs.

Excerpt

UVA-E-0387

Rev. Jan. 6, 2017

Schmidt Press and Mekkanischer Wahnsinn

After 29 years of career success in a leading German publishing firm, Gisela Schmidt had harnessed all the monetary and human resources she could to launch her own publishing firm, Schmidt Press. The Berlin-based company had created a niche for itself in publishing exciting, fact-based fiction, and Schmidt, a risk-taker, had profited from a national resurgence in adventure novels. In late 2012, Schmidt Press was celebrating its sixth year in business and its first year in the black.

In June 2012, author Jonathan Taajwar had submitted a manuscript to Schmidt Press called Mekkanischer Wahnsinn (Meccan Madness). The book had been reviewed by the editorial staff and was now on Schmidt's desk, where it had been sitting for six months while Schmidt pondered what to do with it. She had read the manuscript the week she received it and found it to be a riveting novel about a Muslim woman who attempts to lead an underground movement to take control of the Kaaba, the holy sanctuary at Mecca. Schmidt was sure the book would be a bestseller and give her embryonic bottom line a large and welcome boost.

Schmidt's confidence in the success of Mekkanischer Wahnsinn, however, was also the very reason for her serious concern about publishing it under her company's name. She was well aware that the novel's basic premise made it potentially controversial, in particular given that the author described himself as a lapsed Muslim. Any publication critical of Islam would be poorly received by people of the Islamic faith. Although the tragedy of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, had created some worldwide interest in learning about the Islamic faith—and might consequently have led to a boost in sales of publications dealing with Islam—it had also created a volatile climate that could potentially lead to a hostile reception of Taajwar's novel.

. . .

Keywords: business and society, stakeholder management, values, business ethics, ethical issues, international case, diversity, Islam, Germany, publishing, publishing industry

Suggested Citation

Wicks, Andrew and Mead, Jenny, Schmidt Press and Mekkanischer Wahnsinn. Darden Case No. UVA-E-0387. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2974186

Andrew Wicks (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/wicks.htm

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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